Ugh. I guess it was inevitable that Bush would try to paint the Democrats as obstructionists who don't stand for anything, and make them the scapegoats for his own failed and unpopular policies.
For now, I'll just pretend to ignore the fact that the Democrats have been forced into the unpleasant role of that killjoy who's always trying to take the drunk's car keys away. If preventing someone from driving off a cliff or mowing down pedestrians is obstructionist, well, we need more of it.
At any rate, I think Bush may have unwittingly given the Democrats an opportunity, if they're smart and aggressive enough to take it.
On issue after issue, they stand for nothing except obstruction, and this is not leadership. (Applause.) It is the philosophy of the stop sign, the agenda of the roadblock, and our country and our children deserve better. (Applause.)
Political parties that choose the path of obstruction will not gain the trust of the American people. If leaders of the other party have innovative ideas, let's hear them. But if they have no ideas or policies except obstruction, they should step aside and let others lead. (Applause.)
Okay, now, I seem to recall that Harry Reid offered up a very compelling Democratic version of the Contract With America earlier this year, but of course there's no chance at all that any of it could pass a Republican Senate.
So with that in mind, I would love to see Reid call Bush's bluff on this. Remind him that the Democrats do have ideas and plans, remind everyone what they are (and that they've been out there for months, and any specific examples of the Republicans shutting them down), and challenge the Republicans to stop blocking them. Oh, and also point out that blocking bad policies and nominees protects America, and is what Congressmen are supposed to do; when the Republican agenda is no longer toxic, the Democrats will be happy to wave it through.
I know there's a school of thought that says you shouldn't dignify this sort of smear with a response (and look how well that worked out for Kerry last year), but I think this is a winner: It gives the Democrats a platform to promote their own agenda while essentially calling Bush a divisive, partisan liar at the same time. And perhaps even more importantly, not responding would be an implicit admission that Bush is right,and that is just not acceptable.
One minor tactical point: I think the most appropriate way to publicize this would be an initial response from Reid (or a joint response by Reid and Pelosi), followed by a Dean address calling attention to it, in order to assure media coverage.
Here's hoping the Democrats fight back on this. Dean seems to have found his voice after a fairly quiet start, so I'm cautiously optimistic.